LA Galaxy vs. D.C. United: Winners and Losers from MLS
The LA Galaxy stormed back from a one-goal deficit at halftime to defeat D.C. United 4-1 in the final contest of Sunday's 10-game slate across Major League Soccer.
Mike Magee was the catalyst of the comeback as he scored twice, earned an assist and set up Robbie Keane's 83rd-minute penalty.
The win came without major contributions from LA's big-name stars in attack like Steven Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos and Keane. One headliner who was a difference-maker at the StubHub Center was Ashley Cole, who produced a stellar second half.
United, who went ahead in the fifth minute on a strike from Lamar Neagle, had no answer for the Galaxy once the hosts got going in the second half.
Here's a look at our winners and losers from LA's season-opening win over D.C.
Winner: Mike Magee
Mike Magee's entrance at the start of the second half changed the complexion of the contest at StubHub Center.
The 31-year-old, who spent the last three seasons with the Chicago Fire, played a role in setting up all four goals scored by the Galaxy in the second half.
In the 54th minute, Magee helped the Galaxy level the match as his corner found the head of center back Daniel Steres. Magee netted his first goal of the match in the 64th minute as he chipped a shot over Andrew Dykstra from the left side of the box.
Magee earned a penalty in the 83rd minute as he broke free into the box and was tripped up by Dykstra. After Keane slotted home the spot kick, Magee finished off the match with a header from close range in the 87th minute.
If Magee contributes to the Galaxy attack like he did Sunday, he may push for a consistent spot in the starting 11.
Loser: Giovani Dos Santos
The stock of Giovani dos Santos took a hit Sunday as his halftime replacement contributed to each of the Galaxy's four goals.
After failing to make an impact on the match in the first half, the Mexico international was substituted for Magee when the second half began. In his time on the pitch, Dos Santos recorded 24 touches and failed to attempt a shot, per WhoScored.
Just because Magee had a stellar night off the bench doesn't mean Dos Santos will lose his starting spot to the 31-year-old, but he is under more pressure to perform with other capable players behind him on the depth chart.
Winner: Ashley Cole
We'll be honest here, Ashley Cole was nowhere close to earning the title of winner after the first 45 minutes, but he improved dramatically when his team needed him the most in the second half.
The experienced left back made a few key interventions, starting with his tackle in open space on Luciano Acosta in the 60th minute, which killed a few D.C. United attacks.
Cole also showed no fear when it came to blocking shots. In the 64th minute, he dove straight into a shot in order to keep it away from the net.
If the Cole from the second half shows up in the majority of LA's matches in 2016, he will be one of the signings of the season. However, if the first-half version of Cole shows up, LA will be in serious trouble.
Loser: Fabian Espindola
In the 45 minutes he was on the pitch, Fabian Espindola failed to make a mark on a struggling United attack.
The 30-year-old forward entered the contest at halftime in an attempt to hand D.C. some momentum in the final third while LA searched for an equalizer.
Instead of putting the game to rest with a goal, Espindola delivered a lackluster performance that included just 26 touches and two shots off target, per WhoScored.
There's no doubt the experienced scorer will eventually find the back of the net for the Black and Red, but it may take some time for him to find his scoring boots in 2016.
Winner: Nick DeLeon
Nick DeLeon was the most dangerous player on the pitch for the first 60 minutes of the match.
The 25-year-old midfielder found plenty of gaps in the Galaxy defense and was able to create a good amount of opportunities with his pace in the final third.
When the Galaxy started to find a rhythm in the second half, DeLeon almost shut the door on their comeback, but he hit the post with his 57th-minute shot.
With a new-look DeLeon in the middle of the attack and players like Luciano Acosta and Lamar Neagle on the wings, United should be able to play more attractive soccer than they have over the past few years.
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.